India's Independence: The London Story

| 05 July 2007

The Out of India display, showing at the Museum of London throughout the summer.

Sixty years after independence, where can you find out about the Indian campaigners whose story is so intertwined with London?

We pick a few of the London landmarks, exhibitions and archives that explore the history.

1. Local historian Mimi Romilly tells us about some of the Indian independence campaigners who lived in London - from well known figures like Nehru and Gandhi to the student activists who kept the cause alive over several decades.

2. Photographer Stacey Yates revisits Kingsley Hall, Bow, where Gandhi stayed for three months in 1931 whilst attending the Round Table Conference about the future of India.

Gandhi's cell at Kingsley Hall. Photo: Stacey Yates

3. The British Library holds the surviving archives of the English East India Company and the India Office, documenting in printed, manuscript and visual form almost all aspects of Britain's involvement in South Asia from 1600 up to independence and partition in 1947.

But if you don't feel like combing through all these records, there's a small display of papers in the library's Folio Gallery, concentrating on material banned by the British Government in India 1910 - 1940. 19th July - 7th October 2007. FREE

photo shows demonstrators in London

Demonstrators on their way to Downing Street on a 'Direct Action Day' called by the All India Muslim League.

4. Britain's first Asian MP, Dadabhai Naoroji was also a committed Indian nationalist. When he was elected to the Borough of Finsbury in 1893, the people of his home town of Bombay sent a present to the electors of Finsbury: an intricately carved wooden box filled with photographs of their city. The box and its contents are on display at Islington Local History Centre until 30th September 2007. FREE

photo shows film poster

A poster for a Pakistani film, Shama, showing at the Astoria cinema. Copyright Museum of London

5. Meanwhile a small display at the Museum of London looks at the story of Indians in London from the Victorian period onwards, through an eclectic mix of objects: Hindu statues recovered from the Thames, early paintings and pictures of Indian life in London, including this early image of Indian suffragettes.

But head first for the soundpost where groups including Asian Dub Foundation, Rishi Rich and Panjabi Hit Squad (with some help from Miss Scandalous) give a whistlestop masterclass in the modern sound of Asian London. It's great to look back on a century of history with these confident, stylesetting beats in your head.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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